For those of you that went last Friday to the ‘Primetime at the Palace’ event, you can attest to what a fun evening that turned out to be. HogBaller and I were part of an estimated 5,000 fans that turned out to watch both the men’s and women’s teams practice for the first time this fall.
Mike Anderson was all smiles, looking at a roster that contained a full complement of 16 players…the first full deck we’ve seen in several years. He has a plan, and knows where he wants to go. It’s exciting to watch him build this team — piece by piece.
For us, all eyes were on the newcomers, and they did not disappoint. Davion Spivey (6-2, 210) was the surprise winner of the dunk contest. Coty Clarke (6-7, 220) and Alandise Harris (6-6, 235) both showed good size and played physical inside. Harris, if he is eligible, can score the ball, while Clarke is a grinder/rebounder type.
DeQuavious Wagner (5-10, 176) showed a lot of quickness (as expected) and was strong handling the ball. His shots weren’t falling Friday night. Anthlon Bell out of Memphis is that tall, 6-3 guard that we’ve been missing.
We were a bit surprised by Jacorey Williams. We anticipated at 6-8, that he would be mainly an inside player, but he showed good ball skills and shot several perimeter shots during the up-and-down scrimmage.
We came away most impressed though with high-flyer Michael Qualls, the 6-5 freshman swingman from Shreveport, La. Going in, we had heard about Qualls’ 45-inch vertical leap, what we didn’t realize until we saw him in person, was that he’s got a legitimate 7-foot wingspan. From listening to Anderson, he will be perfect as the point on the press.
“He’s a freak, man. He just jumps like for no reason,” Mardracus Wade Wade joked. “He’s very athletic. Very long. Very good defensively. He rebounds. Has a really good basketball IQ. He’s just an all-around good player.”
Qualls is versatile, and can run all day. He will be a star in Mike’s system in time. That time may turn out to be sooner than we think.